DCCC Makes Case for New Site at Old Prendie
At its May 28 meeting, the Wallingford-Swarthmore School Board heard a proposal from representatives of Delaware County Community College on Tuesday regarding the proposed purchase of the massive building which was originally home to Archbishop Prendergast Catholic High School. Under a resolution of the DCCC board, school buildings and adjacent land at 403 N. Lansdowne Avenue in Drexel Hill would be acquired to become the site of an additional 8.5 acre campus for the college, according to Dr. Joy Gates Black, President of DCCC.
Dr. Black framed the expansion as a way to strengthen the entire Delaware County community, in part by providing a bridge to higher education and the job market to lower-income individuals living in and around Upper Darby, who may live an hour or more by bus from DCCC’s Marple campus at Media Line Road and Route 252. Currently, some students in the eastern part of the county are served in scattered sites in Upper Darby and Folcroft.
Carlos Garcia, Vice President for Administration and Treasurer at DCCC, explained that the project would be funded by a bond issue of up to $55 million, which would be retired after 20 years and incur $4 million in debt service. As sponsors of DCCC, taxpayers in Swarthmore and Rutledge (Wallingford and Rose Valley are not DCCC sponsors) would be partly responsible for servicing that debt, along with supporting communities that comprise 11 of the county’s other 14 districts.
School board members were united in their recognition of DCCC’s value to the county and its communities and students, but had several questions about the financial particulars, not all of which produced definitive answers. Dr. Robert Reiger and Dr. David Grande each expressed concern over DCCC’s ability to pay for the expansion in the long term. Dr. Reiger cited a trend of community colleges being taken over by less affordable state colleges.
Adding to the uncertainty, DCCC is awaiting word from Harrisburg on whether the state will cover half of the $4 million debt service, reducing the burden on Swarthmore, Rutledge, and other sponsors. The school board will vote at its next meeting on whether to support the DCCC resolution. Ridley School District unanimously pledged its support for the acquisition earlier in May, while the Upper Darby and Interboro districts recently voted against support.
Controlling Costs of Cyber Schooling and Athletic Trainers
The board voted to approve two resolutions, one in favor of Cyber Charter School Funding Reform, the other in support of Senate Bill 34 and House Bill 526 “For School Districts that Provide Their Own Cyber Education Programs.” Both resolutions, if adopted, would reduce the cost of cyber charter schools to the district. The former proposes that tuitions paid by the school district to cyber charter schools be linked to the actual costs of educating a student at the cyber charter school. Currently tuitions are linked to the cost of educating a student “in house” and therefore vary from district to district, while providing a much higher profit margin to the cyber charter schools, which do not provide many traditional brick-and-mortar amenities. The latter would allow WSSD to operate its own cyber charter school at about 1/3 of the cost of sending students out of district.
Continuing its effort to optimize athletic training services in both Strath Haven high school and middle school, the board has decided not to renew WSSD’s contract with Rothman Orthopaedics, on the grounds that Crozer Keystone Health System can provide slightly more services — for example, having a physician present at home and away football games and home wrestling matches, whereas Rothman could only provide a physician for home football games — at about half the cost. Jason Luty, the high school trainer, is contracted through Rothman. In light of the public outpouring in support of Jason at the last meeting, the board has asked Crozer-Keystone to consider engaging him for the high school position, which C-K has taken the suggestion under consideration.